Taking supplier collaboration to the next level
Closer relationships between buyers and suppliers could create significant value and help supply chains become more resilient. New research sheds light on the ingredients for success.
By Agustin Gutierrez, Ashish Kothari, Carolina Mazuera, and Tobias Schoenherr – Companies with advanced procurement functions know that there are limits to the value they can generate by focusing purely on the price of the products and services they buy. These organizations understand that when buyers and suppliers are willing and able to cooperate, they can often find ways to unlock significant new sources of value that benefit them both
Buyers and suppliers can work together to develop innovative new products, for example, boosting revenues and profits for both parties. They can take an integrated approach to supply-chain optimization, redesigning their processes together to reduce waste and redundant effort, or jointly purchasing raw materials. Or they can collaborate in forecasting, planning, and capacity management—thereby improving service levels, mitigating risks, and strengthening the combined supply chain.
Earlier work has shown that supplier collaboration really does move the needle for companies that do it well. In one McKinsey survey of more than 100 large organizations in multiple sectors, companies that regularly collaborated with suppliers demonstrated higher growth, lower operating costs, and greater profitability than their industry peers.
Despite the value at stake, however, the benefits of supplier collaboration have proved difficult to access. While many companies can point to individual examples of successful collaborations with suppliers, executives often tell us that they have struggled to integrate the approach into their overall procurement and supply-chain strategies.
Several factors make supplier collaboration challenging. Projects may require significant time and management effort before they generate value, leading companies to prioritize simpler, faster initiatives, even if they are worth less. Collaboration requires a change in mind-sets among buyers and suppliers, who may be used to more transactional or even adversarial relationships. And most collaborative efforts need intensive, cross-functional involvement from both sides, a marked change to the normal working methods at many companies. This change from a cost-based to a value-based way of thinking requires a paradigm shift that is often difficult to come by. more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, How to, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Collaboration, Internet, McKinsey, Skills, Supply chain
By Kevin Clemens – Presently, commercial lithium ion batteries use a carbon graphite anode electrode and a metal oxide cathode electrode. They are separated by a liquid organic solvent that can pass lithium ions between the electrodes while preventing electrons from making the journey. The organic solvent of the electrolyte is flammable—resulting in a potential for a fire in the event that a lithium ion battery is punctured.
The anode side of a lithium ion battery is made from layers of graphite. Lithium ions are inserted between the material’s layers during charging and are released during discharge. Battery researchers realize that replacing the graphite anode with metallic lithium would allow many more lithium ions to flow during discharge, producing a battery with at least twice the capacity. But during the charging stage of a lithium metal battery, spiky crystalline structures, called dendrites, form on the metal surface. These dendrites can grow through the liquid electrolyte, reaching the cathode and shorting out the battery.
A worldwide search is on for a solid or semi-solid electrolyte that can prevent dendrite growth while allowing the easy passage of lithium ions without conducting electrons. more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, Energy, History, Leadership, Nature, Product, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Collaboration, electrolyte, Leadership, Lthium-ion battery, Manufacturing, Technology
Meet GE’s Brangelina: For These Two Moms, Job-Sharing Was The Ultimate Power Move
By Amy Kover – Bobbi Eldrid and Lynda Kaufman have shared a job at GE Power since 1998. They knew each other casually as engineers in Schenectady, New York, where GE makes turbines and generators. When they discovered they were both expecting their first children, they began chatting about an age-old struggle. “We were asking ourselves, ‘How do you balance being a mom with having a challenging role and a fulfilling career path?’” Eldrid says.
These two women take their collaborative skills a step further, expertly juggling what may be the longest-running work-share partnership in GE’s history. The colleagues handle every decision, customer interaction and contractual obligation as a single project-management entity — with Eldrid in her office in upstate New York and Kaufman 900 miles away in South Carolina. For 20 years, they’ve split their workweek evenly.
What they came up with was deceptively simple: Both women put in 24 hours per week. The week begins on Sunday evening when the women hold a standing 2-hour phone call to go over their projects. Then Eldrid works Monday through Wednesday, and Kaufman works Wednesday through Friday. The overlapping of their schedules on Wednesdays allows them to collaborate and switch reins seamlessly. more>
Posted in Business, Economy, How to, Leadership
Tagged Business improvement, Collaboration, GE, job sharing, Jobs, Productivity, Skills, Technology